MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (DC News Now) — Police in Montgomery County are investigating the vandalism of a historic African American church in Potomac, Maryland.

The Scotland African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church was built by Black congregants and opened in 1924.  Meetings in the 1960s at the church were central to the civil rights movement in Montgomery County. It’s also registered as a state historic site. The Church’s Pastor, Dr. Evalina Huggs says it should be investigated as a possible hate crime.

“It’s a Black church, it’s obvious in the video that these are White teenagers,” said Dr. Huggins. “I said, wow, either they don’t know the history of that church, or they just don’t care.”

Montgomery County Police say around 11 p.m. on November 25, multiple people forced entry into the church, vandalized property and left the scene. Detectives reviewed the surveillance cameras and released video of the suspects.

Jerry Martin has been a member of the church for more than 20 years and is disappointed a place built on the backs of Black people was violated. 

“I just couldn’t understand how anyone would come on holy or sacred ground, and defame a church,” said Martin.

The church was damaged by a flood in 2019 and was awaiting renovations. According to their website, they “have launched the 2nd Century Project, a three-phase plan to rescue the building. They want to repair it, safeguard it against floods, and expand it to serve the future needs of the congregation and the wider community.”

Montgomery County Police says as of now this crime is not being investigated as a hate crime, but a reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for any important information.